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Top 5 Hotel WiFi Design Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

by John Ciarlone on November 11, 2014

wifi designIf you're offering WiFi at your hotel or other hospitality business, it's vital that it be high-quality!

Hotel guests are increasingly coming to view WiFi service at hotels as one of the most important aspects of the hotel experience.  In fact, in a recent survey, a majority of guests say they prefer free WiFi to free breakfasts.  When guests actually want something more than free food, that says a lot.

Since we see a lot of common mistakes in hotel WiFi implementation, especially when it's been a "DIY" project, we wanted to address the biggest ones.

Short on time? Download our free guide "How to Create A WiFi Network   Your Guests will Love"

Meraki Switch For Great Hotel WiFi Design, DON'T Do These Things!

1 - Open router access.

When a hotel wants to get WiFi implemented quickly, one of the most tempting corners to cut is access protection.  They allow users to connect directly to the router, sometimes even having truly open/unprotected access on their free WiFi service.

This is a bad idea for several reasons:  It's inherently insecure, it encourages "wardriving" outside the hotel, and it eliminates many of the monetization opportunities an actual log-in portal provides.

Server-side portals are harder to implement, but pay off in the long run.

2 - Not using "Guest Access" procedures.

It's now simple for virtually any modern network software to carve out a "subnet" which is granted Internet service, but no ability to access the business network.  Usually, this only requires a few clicks in the main interface to enable a "Guest" network.

This is vital from a security standpoint.  There's no reason for a guest to be anywhere near the work network, and a segregated subnet is the best way to avoid this.

3 - Restricted coverage.

Some hotels like to advertise "Free WiFi" when what they mean is "Free WiFi in our cafe."  These sorts of practices are seen as very scammy by visitors, and they're unlikely to be fooled twice.

Such tactics may even garner bad reviews on websites ranking hotel WiFi, meaning that a few short-term profits turn into long-term damage to your brand and reputation.

4 - Overpriced access fees.hotel wifi

For years, it was fairly standard in the hotel industry to charge high rates for Internet access, under the assumption that people paying for it would largely be using corporate expense accounts.  It was a "soak the rich" style system that ended up leaving everyday guests and holiday-goers high and dry.

This is another practice, like restricted coverage, that just does not fly today.  Guests are willing to pay a small amount for truly high-speed service, but they expect basic Internet access to be free, or very inexpensive.

And again, if they aren't getting that from your hotel, there's an increasing likelihood they're simply going to a different hotel instead.

5 - Inadequate in-room signal strength.

One very common (but understandable) mistake hotels make when setting up their WiFi is underestimating the effect of their walls on the signal.  The same soundproofing materials that protect your guests' privacy are also very likely to interfere with WiFi broadcasts.

The only viable solution here is using higher-powered antennas, so they can punch through the walls.  This adds a bit to the installation fees, but it's vital for preventing complaints when someone's access dies the moment their door closes.

Getting a professional heat map made ahead of time can also help you determine likely signal strengths before installing a new network.

Great In-Hotel WiFi Brings Big Returns

It's important to look at WiFi as an investment, rather than merely a cost or something you're being "forced" to install due to customer demand.  WiFi can be a huge revenue-driver, as well as bring many additional opportunities for monetization.

However, a stable, secure, and high-speed system is the bedrock foundation of all of that.  Without high-quality service as a starting point, the rest cannot happen.

Want to make the most of your WiFi installation?  Just contact Hummingbird Networks for a free consultation on your needs!  


photo credit: mugwumpian via photopin cc

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

Topics: Wireless